Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Family Fun

Green has been waiting all year to go golfing. I think it's really so he could use his new ball fetcher, courtesy of his Grandpa Lake. When he hit the ball in the water, he yelled, "YES!"

I got chewed out for taking this picture. "MOM, you screwed up my swing! I'm SOOOOO redoing that hit!"

"Since you screwed up Green's hit, you're going to have to take my picture on my practice swing!"

Being cool on the course.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Buster Update

He's home!

Surgery went well. Coming out of surgery was a bit of a different story. Apparently he started to wake up and he FREAKED. So they sedated him again (in other words, gave him another shot which cost me more money), checked him to make sure he was ok (he was), then let him wake up again.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Non-Mortgage Debt Results

Thanks to everyone who participated in the most recent survey. How exciting was it that a majority of the readers had zero non-mortgage debt?

Now...for those of you who were in the higher sections, like the 6 of you who were in the $50 - $100K range, WOW. Just, WOW. I'd be curious to know of those amounts are on car payments or credit card balances. I'm not making fun of you because I've been there. I've SO been there. Hopefully you are attacking that debt with a vengence. It's an amazing feeling to get rid of all of that debt.

Finding Money

There are stories all over the news about how families are struggling to pay their bills. Here is an example. The most common complaint is that they can’t afford their mortgage payments or grocery bills anymore. I get it – kind of. But what else are these families spending money on unnecessarily?

Below is a list of unnecessary things that could be cut out of a family’s budget. These things are LUXURIES and if you can’t pay your mandatory bills, these things have to go. And you’ll be fine without them – I promise.

1. Cable television. And especially if you have a full-blown satellite system. Monthly Value = $50

2. Cell phone. Do you have a top-of-the line plan? I agree that these are important, but you may be paying for more than you actually need. Re-evaluate your contract. Monthly Value = $50

3. Magazine/video/newspaper subscriptions. The news can all be viewed online for free, and if your budget is tight you don’t need to be sitting around at night watching movies. You need to be doing something! Monthly Value = $50

4. Cars. Still making car payments? There are plenty of reliable cars out there that will get you where you need to go. They won’t be the latest model, but they will do the job. Sell your unpaid for car and get yourself a paid for car. Monthly Value = $350

5. Eating out. This should have been item #1. Monthly Value = $250

6. Going out. This means bars, parties, movies, etc. = $200

With just these 6 things, I’ve found approximately $950 dollars of additional money. I’m sure if you take a close look at your own expenses, you’ll find even more money than that. C’mon readers – tell us other suggestions of areas where people can find additional money!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

When debt reduction comes to a screeching halt

This is Buster. He's a Pembroke Welsh Corgi and he's been a member of our family for several years. Cute, eh?

Does he look like a $6,000 dog? Wow, I can't believe I just wrote that. Six grand, on a freakin dog.

A few years ago, Buster tore his ACL. His legs are about 2 inches high. Who knew they even HAD an ACL? The surgery didn't fix the problem 100%, so he went under the knife again. All was well on that leg.

That brings us to Monday morning. We were in the middle of a heated game of Family Baseball. Buster plays catcher and was going after a ball. Corgis run pretty fast and when he got to the ball he came to a screeching halt. Literally. We saw one leg go down, then the rest of him went down. PB and I just stood there and stared..."Holy Sheet".

Today he went to see his surgeon and they decided he probably tore his other ACL. He's there tonight and will have surgery tomorrow afternoon. We are expecting to get him back Thursday, assuming we pay the $1700 bill.

How much will be going to debt reduction this month? ZERO

How glad am I that we are on a financial plan that will allow us to pay cash for the surgery? VERY.

Friday, May 23, 2008

T-Bone Delish!

Dear Pool Boy -

This is a T-bone. For Real, it is.

May I suggest that next time it's "grill" night, you make darn sure you are home before it's time to start the grilling.



Thursday, May 22, 2008

How Much Debt?

Since January 1, we have paid off almost $8,000 of non-mortgage debt. The scrimping and saving is really working, and an unexpected tax refund nudged us up there a little more as well.

Most of our extra money comes from not buying crap we don’t need. As I’ve mentioned before, a lot of my expenses were work-related. Well, not really. They were more “lunch hour-related”. I used to run errands over every single lunch hour and grab a bit to eat as I was out running around. Now if I need to run errands, I buy only what I need and don’t pick throw any extra junk into my cart. And I very rarely buy lunch anymore. First of all, it’s just not healthy. Second, what a waste of money!

I won’t tell you exactly what our total amount of debt is, but I can see the end. Even when the mortgage is included, I can most definitely see the end. It’s really not that far off. The closer we get to the end of our debt, the more intense I become. I’m so excited to think of what we can do when we are debt free!!

New survey time! What is your current debt amount? Don’t include the mortgage. That’s another survey, another day. This is the debt on all that other junk – line of credit loans, student loans, second mortages, credit cards, car payments, etc.

Does adding that up make you sick to your stomach? If so, are you willing to sacrifice to change your situation?

May is High Blood Pressure Awareness Month

High blood pressure is often called the "silent killer" because those who have it show no symptoms and feel just fine. If you don't know what your blood pressure is, get it checked. If you do know what it is and it's high, tackle it with a vengence. I know all too well that high blood pressure can kill you and devastate those left behind.

May is Blood Pressure Awareness Month. Be Aware.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

See That?


Those survey results are AWESOME! I love the fact that so many people are without car payments.

For those of who you DO have car payments, how do these results make you feel? Next survey will be up soon.

More Than A Card

When Dad died, I received so many cards. However, I was in no shape to actually read them. I opened them, saw who they were from, skimmed the handwritten notes, and set them aside. I just couldn't deal with them.

Tonight I sat down with my bag of cards and read I read the card itself, the handwritten notes, and was able to really appreciate the thoughts and prayers that were included in those cards.

Whenever you send a sympathy card, write a personal note instead of just signing your name. I know it's hard to know what to say. Just write a funny memory, your favorite thing about the person, anything. Write something. Those words are what will help those people the most. Don't get me wrong - the cards are nice. But it's the personal notes that make the difference.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sale Time Again

Dave Ramsey is having is $10.00 sale again! Now is the time to stock up on those books you don't have yet.


Here are the 20 worst foods in America. Wow, do I love the cheese fries...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Arrogant Worms For Mom

Some of you may view this and think, "Wow, it sure seems like green3 could have picked a different way to wish her mom Happy Birthday. Aren't some of those lines a bit...shall I say...untimely?" Don't worry. We're all for a little political incorrectness for the sake of humor. And really, it's mom's fault. She introduced us to the Arrogant Worms.

Happy Birthday, Mom. You are an amazing woman!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

And Now We're To This Stage

I have to admit that the different stages of grief have been interesting. I've gone through the stages just like the books said I would - I'm a rule follower like that. And now I'm here...but I'm not sure where "here" is.

I've accepted the situation. Don't get me wrong - It sucks, I mean it REALLY sucks. But I'm past the daily fits of sobbing and the terror of how to continue living without his help.

And now we're moving on. That, my friend, is the problem. We're just moving on like nothing happened. We're going to work, the boys are going to school, we grab a pizza now and then, we argue about homework and fold laundry. I suppose this is what we should be doing but is seems so...wrong. Some days I want to run outside and scream, "HOW CAN EVERYONE GO ON LIKE NOTHING HAPPENED?" But instead I grab my bag and my keys, get in my car and go nothing happened. The whole thing is very odd to me. I realize that physically and emotionally that your body cannot survive in that intense grief mode for long periods of time. But it's only been 8 weeks. Shouldn't I still be a mess?

I talk to Dad daily. I say goodbye to his pictures and ashes each morning as I walk out the door. I still have a relationship with Dad - it's just different. It's not the relationship I want, but it's the relationship I have. I'm learning to be ok with that.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pile Of Money

We currently have a pile of money sitting on our kitchen counter. It's roughly $3,000. It's been sitting there for days simply because neither of us have wanted to talk about it. I want it to go one place (debt, of course), and PB wants it to go somewhere else. Where, I have no idea. Savings probably.

Just a few minutes ago, I brought it up.

Me: What are we going to do with that money?

PB: What do you want to do with it?

Me: I give him "the look" because he knows darn well what I want to do with it.

PB: If you already know what you are going to do with it, then why do you even ask me?

So there you have it, folks. I wish I could provide you with some brilliant way to have a budget meeting. Unfortunately, this is how it works at our house. The situation is ignored until I finally bring it up, then I tell him what should be done with the money and he grumbles about it. But later, when people are asking us about our financial strategy, Pool Boy's all "Yeah, we hate debt. Debt is dumb!"

I've decided that he loves not having the debt, but hates the process of getting rid of it.

Now, see that off to the right? It's a survey. Since very few of you are leaving me comments (I keep telling myself "It's not about the comments!" but really it is), the least you can do is answer the survey. I'm very curious to know how much everyone is paying in car payments. I'll tell you my answer - ZERO. However, there was a time when our car payments totaled over $1000 per month. Sickening, but true.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day 2008 in Pictures

Althea (Luke's dog), Andy, Luke and me.

Andy, Mom, Luke, Althea's rear, Me

The Family
Front: Three and Green
Middle: Andy, Luke, Althea and Me
Back: Pool Boy and Mom

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Although I kind of liked my green3 picture I was using as my header, the previous layout was so boring! I'll be playing around a little bit, so you may see some changes now and then.

The Biggest Illusion

My BIL and SIL went with us to Dave Ramsey. They are considerably younger than us, so it’s exciting to see someone their age getting their arms around their finances.

However, a week prior to our DR event, they went to Hawaii for a week. I thought that was a little odd, since I don’t think Hawaii trips are on Dave’s “Get Out Of Debt” plan. But I kept quiet. None of my business.

On our way home from Kansas City my SIL said, “Boy am I glad we went to Hawaii BEFORE seeing Dave Ramsey!” They had defended the trip all along because they had paid cash for it. I knew better. After a few minutes, it dawned on her. “It’s all an illusion! That really wasn’t our money to spend!” Ding ding ding!

The argument, “but I paid cash for it” doesn’t mean squat if you have debt. All you did was choose not to pay the people you already owe money to so that you could do something stupid with the money…like to go Hawaii.

I believe this calls for a visual aid!

Now put yourself in Tom’s shoes. How would you react if you loaned someone money and instead of paying you back, they opted to buy more clothes or go on a fancy trip? Does that change your philosophy on debt?

Note to J&L - All in fun, of course! But I bet you won't be going on any more trips soon, eh?

My Favs

If I give you a short list, will you promise to go read them? These are the books that have changed my life.

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff series by Richard Carlson

An Hour to Live, an Hour to Love by Richard and Kristine Carlson

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Monday, May 05, 2008

Reading Statistic

One of the statistics Dave Ramsey shared with the audience on Saturday shocked me:

70% of Americans have not read a non-fiction book since their formal education days.

I personally believe that knowledge is power. I have my own personal library at my house (thanks, mom and grandparents!) and there are hundreds of books on my shelves. Among those hundreds of books, you will probably find less than 10 fiction books.

I’m not against fiction books because I think they are important too. I just don’t have many. My library is focused on personal development books – books that will help me become a better person. They may be about goal-setting, goal-achieving, learning about the mutual funds, keeping up your mental health, biographies, and of course, personal finance.

You go first! In my next post, I’ll share with you what my favorite non-fiction books are. But first, tell me what your favorites are. Only rules are that is has to be non-fiction and that it won’t make readers blush. Let’s hear em!

Readers are Leaders

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Kansas City Dave Ramsey Live Recap


Dave's live event was exactly as I thought it would be. Dave was both funny and serious, but mostly inspiring. I have to admit I was a bit star struck.

He had amazing deals on all of his products that day. All of his books and single CDs were being sold for their lowest prices, which allowed people to get even more knowledge. I already have all of his books, so I opted for a CD. I really wanted a t-shirt but apparently those had to be pre-ordered. I thought that was a bit odd.

Since I've read all of his books and listen to his podcasts, I really didn't learn anything new. But that's ok - I'm still very glad I went. Pool Boy went with me and he hasn't read anything of Dave's so it was well worth it just to get him to listen to his message. Dave acknowledged that many people in the crowd probably didn't want to be there - he was so right! But hopefully all of those people were on board by the end of the event.

We're still on Baby Step 2 but well on our way to the next step. We're counting down the months until we get there!

Friday, May 02, 2008

If you can't pay it back, pay it forward.

The support I’ve received over the past few weeks has been overwhelming. The people who reached out to me and our family got us through those first ugly days and continue to help us learn how to cope.

We’ve mailed out thank you letters, put a note in our local newspaper and said our thanks in person. But really – how on earth do you thank people for the kindness they’ve shown us? Without all of these people, who knows where our family would be today. A simple thank you doesn’t seem to be enough.

Since I can’t possibly pay these people back for what they’ve done, the best option is to pay it forward. I’m now a member of a “club” – adult kids who have lost a parent too young. I have a responsibility to reach out to others who are unfortunately now in the shoes that I was in a few weeks ago.

A family in my hometown is starting down the same journey as my family is on. My heart aches for them. I’ve written their kids a letter and will be mailing it to them today along with a book that I found helpful.

Whenever someone shows you kindness, pay it forward. Make the world a better place.